By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
Happy April Fools! This year I want to help unfool you instead of fooling you more in the areas of health and nutrition (an area that we’re already pretty confused by). As a dietitian I hear lots of comments like “but I thought that was bad for you” or “that will make me fat because it contains fat.” Fair enough because we’ve been told many things about the food we eat over the years; however, most of the items that I get so many questions about don’t deserve all of that questioning. So to help you stay unfooled this April Fools, I’ve put together a list of foods that are actually worth eating even if you’ve heard they’re ‘bad’.
Macadamia nuts are often in question because of their higher calorie and fat content (including some saturated fat) than most other nuts, leading many to think that they are a “bad” food. But, let me tell you why that’s just not the case. Macadamia nuts contain a good amount of anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat (the same fat that’s in olive oil, but more in these nuts), along with some polyunsaturated fat, another type of anti-inflammatory fat. Yes, they’re lower in protein and fiber than other nuts, but because of their higher fat content they’ll help to keep you satisfied just as well as many other nuts will (like almonds, walnuts, etc.). Finally, they’re also a source of trace minerals that are important for many functions including thyroid health and bone health including zinc, magnesium, calcium, chromium, and iron.
Egg yolks often get a bad rap due to their higher fat content and cholesterol. One yolk contains about 70 mg of cholesterol. While for someone with very high cholesterol they may not be a good option, for most of us, the finding is that most of the cholesterol in our blood is actually manufactured by our bodies as opposed to consumed through foods. Egg yolks contain nutrients like lutein that can help prevent macular degeneration, and also contains others like vitamins A, E, D and some brain-healthy fat too amongst other things.
White potatoes are thought of as straight “starch” with little nutrition, but not so fast. White potatoes actually contain about twice as much heart-healthy potassium, which helps to balance blood sugar and supple electrolytes to muscle, than sweet potatoes do, and they actually contain more fiber too. Surprisingly to many, they contain about 2-3 grams less sugar than sweet potatoes. This isn’t to bash sweet potatoes because we know they’re superb, but just to put it in comparison, white potatoes aren’t actually as bad as they might appear to be! Here’s a closer look at a comparison between the two.
Coconut oil is often on the “no” list for its high fat content as well as the amount of calories it contains. However, there is some strong research in its corner, like the fact that it may help to boost metabolism, may help to reduce belly fat and more. We love coconut oil, and here 8 more reasons why.
I often have clients calling me telling me they’re feeling guilty for eating chocolate. Not so fast, yes in excess (like anything else) chocolate can be bad, but in moderation and when one chooses dark chocolate over more processed sugar-laden chocolate it’s actually quite healthy for you. The cocoa bean contains heart-healthy flavonoids that may also help to prevent age-related memory loss, and there’s also some research that dark chocolate may be beneficial to athletes as well.
Popcorn is offered in a wide variety of flavors, some more processed than others, and of course some healthier than others. Popcorn that’s non-GMO and made from scratch is actually a fantastic snack – one that’s filling and is low in calories. The trick to keeping popcorn healthy is to avoid the microwave popcorn, and instead make it yourself. Try this recipe: Healthy Herb-Spiced Popcorn